Late 2016 saw the French environment minister Ségolène Royal unveil the winning bids for two more pre-commercial floating offshore windfarms, bringing the number of such projects awarded to four. It also saw an announcement that tenders could be issued as early as 2018 for commercial scale floating offshore windfarms. Matthieu Monnier, who works for France Energie Eolienne, told OWJ that ‘macro sites’ in the Mediterranean and off Brittany in northwest France were being considered for floating windfarms. Mr Monnier said he expected that, if tenders are released in 2018, projects could be awarded as soon as 2019, after a pre-competitive phase.
The most recent awards for the pre-commercial floating wind energy projects went to the French and Portuguese utilities Engie and EDPR, with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), Eiffage, Principle Power and GE, which won a bid for the Leucate zone in the Mediterranean, The second went to a group comprising EDF EN with SMB and IFP for the Faraman area off Brittany. This latter group intends to use Siemens 8MW turbines. The other industry teams to win awards were EolMed, led by French developer Quadran, for a demonstrator in the Gruissan zone in the Mediterranean using Senvion’s 6.2M152 turbines and foundations from Ideol, and Eolfi and China General Nuclear, which will build a demonstrator in the Groix region, off Brittany, using GE’s 6MW Haliade turbines.
Interest in floating offshore wind is running at a high level given water depths in France’s Mediterranean coast and expertise in industry that is applicable to floating offshore wind. In January 2017, DCNS, parent company of tidal energy company OpenHydro, announced the creation of DCNS Energies, a marine energy business that will be fully financed by a fund managed by Bpifrance and supported by Technip and BNP Paribas. It will be majority owned by DCNS and 36 per cent by the Société de Projets Industriels (SPI) fund of Bpifrance and will devote its activity to the industrial and commercial development of three marine energy technologies: in-stream tidal turbines, ocean thermal energy conversion and floating offshore wind. A total investment package of €100 million in equity has been provided by the partners.